Apple’s blow-out fourth quarter: The amateurs called it. The pros blew it.

October 21, 2014, 10:38 AM UTC

The pattern is pretty straightforward: The conservative analysts do best when Apple offers realistic guidance and meets it. When Apple beats expectations — as it did Monday — the more bullish amateurs tend to shine.

So Q4 2014 was one for the amateurs. They took nine of the top 10 spots in our Earnings Smackdown, based on the accuracy of their calls for Apple’s top and bottom lines. The only pro sufficiently bullish to make the top 10 was Deutsche Bank’s Sherri Scribner who, ironically, had downgraded Apple from Buy to Hold just three weeks ago.

The full list:

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 5.22.03 AM

A few performances worth noting:

  • Kudos to Kirk Burgess of the amateur Braeburn Group and Sand Hill Insights’ Chuck Jones, who took the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, respectively. Burgess missed Apple’s EPS by only a penny — not an easy thing to do when Apple’s share count keeps dropping. And Jones’ estimates were best or second best in four categories: Revenue, EPS, iPhones and Macs.
  • To Patrick Smellie, also of the Braeburn Group, who took the No. 1 spot in All Categories and nailed the iPod number. Daniel Tello, who posts as Deagol, was right behind him at No. 2.
  • I don’t know what to say about William Blair’s Anil Doradia except that his low-ball estimates for earnings and revenue were posted right after Apple’s Q3 report. If he updated them later than July 23, I didn’t get the memo.


Below: Our annotated master spreadsheet, with the best estimates highlighted in bright green, the second and third best in light green, the worst in red and the second and third worst in pink.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 6.19.44 AM

Click to enlarge.

Thanks once again to Posts at Eventide‘s Robert Paul Leitao for pulling together the Braeburn Group numbers.

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at or subscribe via his RSS feed.

Subscribe to Well Adjusted, our newsletter full of simple strategies to work smarter and live better, from the Fortune Well team. Sign up today.